A Brief History of Seven Killings

A Brief History of Seven Killings

by

Marlon James

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on A Brief History of Seven Killings can help.

A Brief History of Seven Killings: Part 4, Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in the house in Miami, John-John sees a Latino family––a man, a woman, and their two sons––eating yuca together at a dining table. The woman, Griselda, orders John-John to join them for breakfast, and accuses him of being “the motherfucker who messed up my business.” She says that he has lost her a lot of money and wants to know what he is going to do about it. Griselda slaps him, and the men in the tropical shirts run in, pointing their guns at him. Griselda says: “This is what you gonna do for me.”
Griselda is another paradoxical character. She has been introduced as a lesbian and someone who hardly qualifies as a woman; at the same time, the first time she appears directly in the narrative, she is in a normal domestic scene, presumably with her husband and two children. Yet she then violates that normalcy by threatening John-John at gunpoint.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Back in New York, John-John wakes up next to a greasy-haired man. The man tries to leave and John-John realizes he is trying to steal his wallet. He forces the man to stay and have sex with him again at gunpoint. Griselda has instructed him to kill a Jamaican who works with Doctor Love. This man tried to establish Jamaica as the point of connection between Colombia and Miami, working not only with the Medellín cartel but also Cali. Griselda says that someone else wants this Jamaican dead, and that she is just the “messenger.” She advises John-John to set up snipers at the Jamaican’s house.
In the first half of the novel, most of the characters suppressed any queer desires they had or kept them secret. The only time characters indulged in gay sex was in situations of extreme violence (rape or prison). However, in this part of the novel several characters allow themselves to follow their desires, including Weeper, John-John, and Griselda (although Griselda’s sex life is never directly represented in the narrative). And yet it’s also the case that the only characters who are allowed to “get away with” this behavior are those with a certain degree of power and ruthlessness.
Themes
Violence vs. Peace Theme Icon
Masculinity, Sexuality, and Homophobia Theme Icon
Jamaican Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Politics, Power, and Corruption Theme Icon